Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, A New Start

Magnet #131:  Nene Thomas' Moon Dreamer

Material:  Vinyl

Purchased By:  Me

Well, 2010 is officially here.  I started off the day with one of my favorite traditions, watching the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on television.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the parade, it began in Pasadena, California in 1890, and at first mainly featured horse drawn carriages covered with flowers.  Eventually, however, floats became the highlight of the event.  And I love these floats - unlike some parades, that really have no set rules about their floats, those is the Rose Bowl Parade must be completely covered in plant materials and some roses must appear on the float.  It's so neat to see what solutions the float's creator's use - crushed walnut and pistachio shells, seaweed, cranberry seeds, tree bark, and so on.  Also, so many of them now feature multiple points of articulation that make them almost seem alive.  Yes, one day I would definitely enjoy spending this day in Pasadena, watching the parade in person.  And I would love to have a closer look at all of the floats afterwards, when they're featured in the Showcase of Floats when they're all lined up on two boulevards for three days.  It used to be free to the public, but now admission is charged, but I still think it would be worth it.  And sometimes, visitors can even view the floats as they're being finished up before the parade, and maybe even help out - how fun!  After all, sometimes these volunteers and workers have to glue seeds on one at a time - sounds tough, but it's definitely worth it.  My Mom went to the parade, years before I was ever born, and she marched the 5.5 mile route with her high school marching band.  And one of the moms brought a can of black-eyed peas, and gave each student one, for good luck.

Having black-eyed peas in Hoppin' John is another one of my favorite New Year's traditions.  The peas are believed to prosperity when they cook, because they swell up.  If you've never tried it, it's quite simple (at least, made my way).  You just cook up a few strips of bacon in a skillet, then take out some of the drippings - but not all.  Next, cook some chopped onions in the pan, maybe about half a cup, until they're clear.  Then, add in an undrained can of black-eyed peas and cook until they're boiling, and then let them simmer on low for maybe ten or fifteen minutes - and you can shake a little Tabasco in if you want to.  Finally, toss back in the bacon, chopped up, and serve with cornbread or over rice.  At that's all!  If you've never tried it, this is a great time to try it - and, who knows, you may even get some good luck from it.

I decided to post this image by the talented fantasy artist Nene Thomas today because, after years of looking at her calendars at Dragon*Con, I finally bought one this September.  So this is the first year I've had a calendar of her work to admire all year long.  While she started of mainly as a watercolor artist, she later made the transition to more digital work, and you can see more of her amazing work at her website,  I've done some fantasy artwork myself, and I guess now is the time for me to set a new goal for my own artwork.  Back in 2007, I started recording how much time I spend doing art each year.  That year, I managed to do 125 hours.  So in 2008, I set a goal and doubled the time to 250 hours.  And yes, I met it.  But, because of stuff going on in my life last year, I never set a goal, and it showed.  I did so little art it was embarrassing.  So I've decided to shoot for 250 hours again in 2010.  Sure, some artists might scoff at such a small number - after all, it's less than one a day, but given that I have a full-time job and want to keep blogging about my magnets, I think it's a reasonable number.

If you're reading this and are thinking about trying to devote more time in the coming year to an activity that's important to you, this is a great opportunity to start.  It doesn't have to be a resolution, it can be a goal, and you can think of your own way to achieve it.  Good luck to those of you striving to do so in 2010 - and remember, if you meet your goal, make sure to reward yourself - you will have earned it!


  1. The Rose Parade is certainly on my must-see list as well! Until that day, my wife and I always watch it every year as part of our own New Year's Day activities. If ever there was a time of year to have a high-definition TV set, this is it. The colors are amazing.

    You can keep the black-eyed peas though to yourself. hehe.

  2. Yeah, I think the crowds there are a lot more subdued than the ones in Times Square - plus it's warmer. Throw in some of the best floats ever and that is where I want to spend New Year's someday.